Kathryn Erskine spent many years as a lawyer before realizing that she’d rather write things that people might actually enjoy reading. She grew up mostly overseas and attended eight different schools. Erskine draws on her life stories and world events to write her novels including Quaking, an ALA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, Mockingbird, 2010 National Book Award winner, The Absolute Value of Mike, a Crystal Kite winner, and Seeing Red, a novel set immediately after the Civil Rights era that questions who we were then and who we are now. For more info, visit her website, blog, Facebook, and Twitter.
Let the conversation begin!
If you were a road sign, what would you be? Why?
“Rotorua 20 km” because I’d love to visit New Zealand. Rotorua has great geothermal sites nearby but I’d travel all over the North and South islands, touring and visiting friends (hi, Liesbeth!).
Which is worse, being in a place that is too loud or too quiet?
Too loud, definitely. I can’t think with loud noise, especially competing noises like TV and videos.
What is one quality that you really appreciate in a person?
Honesty. That’s the basis of trust. I don’t like two-facedness or betrayal. I’ll be writing about that someday, I’m sure.
What is your earliest childhood memory?
My big sister getting to attend a party while I was stuck in my crib. I knew it was her because my bedroom door had a rippled glass insert and the short shadow running back and forth in front of it was hers. Everyone was chatting and laughing while I was stuck in the dark alone.
What would you rather have: a nanny, a housekeeper, a cook, or a chauffeur?
Housekeeper! I can do the other jobs just fine but cleaning house is tiring, time consuming, and thankless, although I really do like a clean house so I spend more time than I’d like keeping it that way.
What do you think you do best in your writing?
Developing characters. My novels are character driven because it’s the people in books that always draw me into the story and keep me coming back. I love creating characters and giving them quirks, good points, bad points, and thinking about the way they talk and think.
Name one entity that supported your writing journey outside of family members.
The Highlights Foundation. From the Heart of the Novel workshop I took with Patti Gauch to the writing workshops at Chautauqua — now held at their own beautiful facility in the woods in cabins (modern, with all the amenities — I’m not into camping) — it’s a completely supportive, caring community. You leave feeling encouraged, enlightened, and as if everyone fully believes you’ll succeed, because they do believe it. I highly recommend it whether you’re starting out or would like to find a group of like souls. You may end up creating a writing group with them after you leave, and will almost certainly leave with new friendships.